In 2010 we decided that the best way to help Growers First go from serving 600 remote coffee farmers to 6000 was to begin to market and sell their coffee directly, creating the revenue and awareness needed to expand the work. Growers First Coffee is a new-world business enterprise designed leverage the power of a for-profit company to help substantially expand the work of Grower First Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The Growers First Foundation is an owner of Growers First Coffee.
Reach out to us to learn more about our social enterprise model or tell us about your venture. Business as mission, LC3s, B-Corps — we love to talk about new-world business. Do good, do well, repeat.
I landed in Oaxaca with a desire to serve and experience an unfamiliar culture and within three weeks the desire became reality in an astounding way. My name is Mark Dupray and I had the pleasure of spending a month living in the village of Ixcuintepec, Mixe Oaxaca.
To understand the remoteness of these villages it helps to understand that 20 years ago only a simple trail allowed access to the town and Spanish was not spoken. Only recently have cars become infrequent visitors and firelight been replaced by street lights.
When I landed in town and the announcement was made during the gathering of the Growers First farmer's cooperative, that I would be staying for a month. The word spread fast. During my time I learned that three staples keep the Mixe thriving as they have for the last couple centuries in the tropical mountains of Oaxaca. The first is family, the second is coffee, and the third is corn. The Mixe families are large and intimately involved. Every person in the village could at any give time scan the town and spot at least one cousin, grandmother, uncle or immediate family member, often with an enormous load of wood piled on their back or with a machete dangling at their side. And often those aforementioned persons were going to or coming home from their coffee or corn fields.
Growers First in conjunction with the farmer's cooperative have made growing coffee a worth while venture once again after years of prices being too low to motivate people to invest the hard labor to harvest coffee. While in the village I had the pleasure of hiking often an hour or more, deep into the lush surrounding hills to see the coffee plants growing in the shade of the the massive tropical canopy. During the month I was in town, the local farmer's CO-OP members collected the remaining coffee for the second export lot. In all 30,000 kilos were collected from Ixcuintepec this season and all of it was loaded onto the trucks one, 70 kilo bag at a time!
The Mixe are warm and inviting people who are more than willing to feed you until you absolutely explode. One of the first phrases I learned in Spanish and Mixe is "THANK YOU, I AM FULL." I spent countless evening hours hanging in a hammock with one family or another, discussing the day, the weather, the crops, and plans for the future. My time in the village also included teaching English, finishing construction of an adobe house, clearing fields with a machete and dodging fruit as it fell from the trees. The month in the village had a profound affect on me and it gave me a great feeling to know that Growers First is working with these people and many others like them, to produce a sustainable and healthy crop of coffee and people.
Please enjoy a short video I put together to show you these wonderful farmers and their families!
Equal access to education, training, and science and technology - the pathway to decent work for women.
This years International Women's Day Theme is one that Growers First has been providing for the last 10 years and continues to strive to improve the lives of the rural women within the coffee communities that we are involved in.
One of the 1st items that Growers First provides is an assessment of the needs and concerns of the individual villages and communities by involving the women separately so we can gauge the true pulse of each community. Using the "Ten Seeds Technique" allows the women, both educated and non-educated, the opportunity to have a voice in the decisions.
Through our nursery programs, close involvement with each unique farmer and certification processes, the women coffee farmers are given equal opportunities for advancement economically & socially. A recent example is that ALL of the coffee farmers, including all the women farmers, receive USDA organic coffee certifications! This allows them to receive a higher value for their coffee.
Science and Technology
One of Growers First's main goals is that the end consumer of these coffee farmers commodity will have an opportunity the build a relationship with the coffee farmer that harvested their coffee. Using the most current technology, Growers First has created "Traceable-Transformation" TM Coffee Tags that are placed on each bag of coffee purchased so that the end consumer can scan using smartphone technology and build a direct relationship with each farmer that worked so hard to provide that great cup of coffee!
Growers First wants to honor International Women's Day 2011 and we hope that you will to!